Hamas and Fatah: a history of conflict
The differences between Hamas and Fatah lie in their respective visions for a Palestinian future and the methods employed to achieve these ends. Since its foundation following the first intifada against Israel's occupation of Palestinian land in 1987, Hamas has seen Fatah's two-state solution as implicit recognition of Israel. Instead, Hamas wants to establish an Islamic state on all of historic Palestine – much of which lies within Israel's present borders.
Hamas viciously opposed the 1993 Oslo accords negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, launching suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and engaging in outright conflict with Fatah in late 1994, shortly after the Palestinian Authority (PA) (under Fatah) assumed control of Gaza under Oslo.
Several peace negotiations and efforts to engage Hamas politically collapsed through the 1990s and the second intifada of the early 2000s. Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Yassir Arafat as Palestinian Authority leader in 2004, opposed Hamas's continued attacks on Israel, claiming that they were counter productive to Palestinian objectives.
Last year's PA elections saw Hamas win an overall majority with 74 of 132 seats, while the ruling Fatah won 45 seats. Hamas continued to reject the right of Israel to exist, and international embargoes were effected. The power-struggle between Fatah and Hamas continued following the elections – Fatah now holds sway in the West Bank while Hamas dominates Gaza.
Related Story: Hamas's shortsighted manoeuvre